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Editorial:

All these immigrants washing ashore, hiding in the glove-box over on the ferry or climbing over the high (yet oddly un-electrified) fence into Spain’s North African city-states. They are hungry in the Sub-Sahara and they are looking for a better life. Many of them will end up with jobs that no European will do – from working for a pittance in the plastic farms of Almería to importuning irritated tourists on the beach who already have a pair of sun glasses, thank you.

 

So far this year, says The Guardian, 27,600 have arrived illegally in Spain (at least, that’s the number of those who were caught).

As we accept their arrival, or admit that they should have a chance to seek a better life, we play into the hands of the Hard-Right, who joyfully commission articles about violence, rape and destruction at the hands of the foreigners. The Daily Mail has recently had to quietly remove a hate-filled article regarding its ‘...devastating report about 300,000 illegal migrants living in Paris’, after it was shown to be a fabrication. Nearer to home, the vice-president of the diputación (‘county-council’) in Alicante, the PP veteran Alejandro Morant, is calling for ‘mass-deportations’, because, you see, ‘...this is not immigration, it is a silent invasion that will end the Western world, turning it into Islam’.

Ah, Islam, where they wear pyjamas in the street and talk funny. Where words like Sharia, burqa and halal are bandied about by the Media to frighten our children. So frightening.

It is nevertheless evident that the immigrants do cause problems, especially – it goes without saying – the poor ones.
Perhaps these issues are exaggerated, because we all enjoy a good story, or a moment of indignation or perhaps some validation for our hatred of foreignness, but there is no smoke without fire. All said, it is true that the current wave of immigrants are not the cream of North African society: they are not doctors from Dakar, nor bank-managers from Bamako, nor chiropodists from Casablanca. They are uneducated, raw and largely unwanted.

But, as we know from our past, the hatred of foreigners can bring about war, destruction and harsh right-wing governments. Blacks, Orientals and Moors are so easy to notice, too.

Unfortunately for the haters, the Spanish are extremely generous towards foreigners, and many a child here shows evidence of having being born in another culture, but adopted and brought up as a natural family-member. We buy stuff from the manteros, who spread their sheets full of CDs or shoes or knock-off shirts on the sidewalk, we regularly visit the Chinese bazaars (because they are cheap and always open) and we eat in the Moorish restaurants (because the food is good).

And the undocumented immigrants themselves are exploited by mafias who, since we are talking illegal, are riding on their backs. The man who pays 1,800€ to cross the Mediterranean. The man who sleeps on the floor of a tiny apartment with ten others and must sell tat to the tourists to survive. The man who works in an invernadero in dangerous temperatures and conditions.

We see immigrants in our rear-view mirrors – what do they see?

Perhaps a partial solution is to help those African countries from whence come these migrants – but we know that financial aid is no answer (it will all get pinched and end up in a Swiss bank account). However, we could build things for them (like the Chinese are doing). Roads, schools and clinics.

Every day the images are there on the TV, sad but relieved Africans wrapped in thin blankets and waiting to be processed by the overwhelmed Guardia Civil. Some people watching will say – this must stop – there are too many.

And yes, it has to stop – because the Far-Right will gather force from the increasingly over-hyped situation, and it will return with a vengeance.

...

Housing:

From Property Wire here: ‘Prime property sales in Spain increased by 27% year on year across all regions in the first half of 2018 with sales to British buyers increasing in popular resort locations despite Brexit. The latest market report from Spanish firm Lucas Fox shows that key second home destinations such as Marbella, the Costa Brava and Ibiza all saw significant growth compared to the same period last year. International buyers dominated sales in these coastal regions with 87% to foreign buyers compared to 63% in the first six months of last year with the majority coming from the UK, France and Scandinavia. The main motivation for purchase was as a secondary residence at 77%...’.

The three key figures in building this year, says EjePrime with satisfaction here, are 16.6% more new builds than 2017, an increase of 5.4% in prices and 24% more sales than last year.

Granada Digital says here that prices in Andalucía have increased even more – by 6.5%.

From The Olive Press: ‘Mortgage approval numbers are soaring in Spain as property market continues its recovery’. More here.

This man lives in a 40m one-room apartment in Barcelona. They’ve just put the rent up – from 400 to 700€ a month.

The National Commission on Markets and Competition (CNMC) has agreed to challenge the recent municipal planning regulations in Madrid, Bilbao and San Sebastian regarding tourist housing, considering that the regulations of these municipalities are 'anti-competitive' and are 'harmful to both consumers and users...'. From Bolsamanía here.

According to Libre Mercado, the Government is studying raising the tax on second homes.

Business Insider looks at a rural area of Spain ‘twice the size of Belgium’, where the population is falling. Quora asks ‘What could Spain do to encourage re-habitation of "dead zones" in the rural part of the country where towns have died out?’ Tell them we sent you

...

Tourism:

From Reuters: ‘Spanish hotels are cutting prices on summer holiday packages as tourists return to destinations like Turkey and resorts in North Africa while visitor numbers to Spain start to peak after five record-breaking years...’. More here.

Sobering news from Hosteltur: ‘Spain received almost 19 million British tourists last year. Factors such as climate, proximity, value for money and safety are all reasons that explain the success of Spanish destinations for the UK. There is another element: the absence of bureaucratic obstacles to travel to our country if you have a British passport. But this could change after 2021, once the UK has left the European Union and the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) comes into force. Under this new scheme, which will apply to citizens of sixty countries (and it seems increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will end up on this list), a travel permit will be required for a three-year period of seven euros...’.

The National Government has confirmed that the last Commercial flight into Murcia - San Javier Airport, will be on the 14th January 2019. Scheduled flights from the 15th January 2019, will transfer to Corvera Airport. Murcia - San Javier will be re-designated as an Emergency-Only Runway’. From Murcia 247 on Facebook here.

...

Finance:

The six main Spanish banks - Santander, BBVA, CaixaBank, Sabadell, Bankia and Bankinter - obtained a net profit of 3,713 million euros during the first half of 2018, which represents an increase of 17.5% over the same period a year earlier. These figures, collected by the consulting firm Neovantas, only reflect the banking activity of the entities in Spain, thus excluding their operations in foreign territory...’. From Cinco Días here.

From The Corner here: ‘Spain’s new prime minister Pedro Sanchez is envisaging to increase taxation on banks. Although the project is still in its infancy and needs the support of Parliament, analysts have got out their calculators and released their first estimates with notable impacts for domestically-focused players. Experts at Alphavalue believe the assessment of the impact is not as straightforward as it seems and could be largely watered down...’.

So it is that banks in Spain are once again beginning to significantly relax their lending standards. This includes the resurrection of the 100% mortgage, a high-risk instrument that notoriously helped fuel Spain’s madcap property boom over a decade ago. But it’s in the consumer loan market where the alarm bells are ringing loudest. According to the Bank of Spain, in 2017 banks issued 15% more consumer credit — loans for the purchase of consumer goods like cars, furniture, electrical appliances and holidays — than the year before...’. From Wolf Street here.

Apple may be the first ‘trillion dollar’ company worldwide (BBC News here), but it pays little tax in Spain. According to Hispanidad, the company ‘...laughs at the Spanish Hacienda. It could be the first company to reach $1 trillion (in Spanish un billón) in capitalization, but it paid just 14.5 million euros in Spain in 2017’. The Spanish GDP, by the way, is only a fraction larger than Apple’s ($1,160,000 million versus $936,000 million for the Silicon Valley company).

As El Boletín says, ‘For the first time since 2013, large companies in Spain have paid less tax on their profits than in the previous year. In 2016, the largest companies faced a tax-rate of 6.1% of their accounting profit. That year, the large consolidated groups increased their profits by 28.4% compared to the previous year: they earned 111,788 million euros and surpassed their pre-‘crisis’ profits – as in 2007 they achieved a positive accounting result of 107,213 million euros. According to the report on collection published by Hacienda this week (find it here), they earned 24,130 million more than in 2015...’.

From Público: ‘The famous, the rich and the retired 'flee' to Portugal to pay less tax. The Portuguese Republic maintains a very favourable tax regime for foreigners who settle in the country in exchange for attracting their spending power. The measure dates back to the times of the crisis and is maintained despite internal and external criticism. Franco's granddaughter has changed her residence to Portugal, seduced by the country's benefits...’.

Spanish unemployment has fallen to its pre-crisis levels. The official statistics show that the new summer labour contracts have reduced the number of unemployed in Spain to 3.13 million, which is the lowest level of nearly a decade and 2 million below the maximum reached in the financial crisis. The National Institute of Statistics reported that the unemployed fell by 27,141 people in July compared to June in the summer season when jobs are usually created in tourism sector. The statistical office notes that 19.4 million workers are paying to the Spanish social security fund...’. From The Economics Herald (Bulgaria) here.

...

Politics:

From El País in English: ‘Spain’s PP leader faces new legal setback over suspect master’s degree. The judge sends case to Supreme Court after finding signs of wrongdoing in Pablo Casado’s academic qualification’. BoT gives him until maybe October...

The latest CIS survey gives a boost to the PSOE which is now, at 30%, almost 10% in front of its two neck and neck rivals, the PP and the Ciudadanos. El País has the figures here.

There’s an endless debate in Spain on the Monarchy versus Republicanism. Not a subject we shall see in a political survey perhaps... Público reports here that Pedro Sánchez is a Royalist ‘We now have a renewed and exemplary monarchy’, he says.

Pacma, the eccentric animalista party ('Bizcocho for President'), is unaccountably doing well in the latest 'intention to vote' survey from the CIS with 1.4% of the popular support. Enough, perhaps, to send someone to Brussels next May. However, the autocratic leadership is causing major internal problems (much to the relief of at least the taurinos and the cazadores). As one saddened ex-member of PACMA says "the management can't stand the slightest criticism and they behave like real Taliban. As soon as you express the slightest disagreement, they shut you out. The only thing they want from their affiliates is contributions to pay for their salaries and win votes". The story at El Confidencial here.

From Deutsch Welle on the immigrant issue: ‘The right-wing competition is on’. ‘...Meanwhile, the newly elected president of the conservative People's Party (PP, the largest opposition party), Pablo Casado, adopted a distinct anti-immigration position last Sunday. Casado tweeted that "millions" of Africans are waiting to cross over to Europe. "There can't be papers for all," he tweeted, adding that "we have to say it even if it's politically incorrect." Three days later Casado travelled to the south and was photographed shaking immigrants' hands. Casado's tweet was immediately seized upon by the other major right-wing leader in Spain, Albert Rivera, who heads the liberal Ciudadanos party. Rivera visited Ceuta on Monday, where he accused the government of creating a "pull effect."...’.

Maldito Bulo says that ex-President Mariano Rajoy has asked for his presidential pension, disproving a popular Facebook meme that claims that he didn’t want to be paid anything.

...

Brexit:

I was one of the 700,000 British people denied a vote in the first EU referendum – that's why we need another Brexit vote. As a British citizen living and working in the EU for the last 24 years, I lost the democratic right to vote in parliamentary elections in both the UK and France – I became completely disenfranchised. And now it’s my future which hangs in the balance...’. An opinion piece from The Independent here.

...

Media:

A fascinating article here at Meditación y Psicología about how the psychology of advertising makes us buy things we really didn’t know that we wanted.

...

Various:

Spain’s taxi-drivers say they are sorry for the recent strike and any ill-usage towards the public, but say they will strike again in September if they are not treated right by the Government..

El Español says that the nice glass of chilled licor de hierbas which you are offered at the end of a meal as an aid to a settled stomach is neither a digestive nor even good for you. Huh!

For those who think the AVE isn’t fast enough, here comes the 1,200kph Hyperloop! The experimental and futuristic system is to be designed in Málaga says El Mundo here.

Well, here’s some good news – Granada is to be connected by rail to Madrid again after three years without service. El Diario reports here.

There are some expensive beach-bars out there, says El Español. ‘A Coke for 13€ and 24€ for six shrimp...’. The ten worst beach-bars are listed here.

Business over Tapas is on Facebook here.

...

See Spain:

The “Camino de Santiago” or Santiago’s Way is a labyrinth of routes flowing across all of Europe and culminating in the town of Santiago de Compostela’. But who was Santiago? Eye on Spain tells the story here.

The Guardian introduces readers to Córdoba here.

El Confidencial has an article about Spain’s fabulous museums, and why around 80% of them are remarkably empty of visitors. What’s going wrong? By the way, of the world’s twenty most popular museums, only one (and it’s not the one you think) is on the list.

...

Finally:

Clint Eastwood once gave an interview about his time in Almería with Sergio Leone, making his first spaghetti western, a Fistful of Dollars. Here on YouTube.

 

Business over Tapas August 9 2018 Nº 268

A digest of this week's Spanish financial, political and social news aimed primarily at Foreign Property Owners:

With Lenox Napier and Andrew Brociner. Consultant: José Antonio Sierra

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